Why Playing It Cool In A Relationship Is Actually NOT Cool

What’s wrong with being passionate about something? What’s wrong with being decisive, knowing what we want, and having the confidence to ask for it?

I recently discovered the wonders of being in a relationship where neither of us tries to play it cool. Sometimes, for instance, I find myself in the middle of a casual conversation with them, listening to them talk about something crazy they read online, and suddenly think about how funny, smart, kind, and wonderful they are. Then I wait for them to finish the story so I can tell them exactly what I thought moments before: that they’re incredible, and that I love them like the sun loves to give skin cancer to people who don’t wear sunscreen (or something totally romantic like that). Then they laugh at my silly joke, they tell me that I’m awesome too, and we seal our romantic moment with a hug and a kiss. Does that sudden display of affection seem completely uncool? It does, because it is uncool, but keeping it cool will rarely give us the connection we all crave for.

I can’t stress enough how freeing it is to express what we feel when we feel it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship will be perfect, or that expressing our feelings guarantees it will last, but doing it allows us to explore the possibilities of the relationship in a genuine way. By distancing ourselves, we’re choosing to stay in the initial stages for too long, without even giving ourselves the chance to fully enjoy the excitement of the beginning. Without a proper beginning, how is it ever going to evolve?

Why do we keep it cool in the first place? I used to be completely convinced that the person who likes/loves/desires the other person more, and shows it, is the one who loses. Loses what? I don’t know. I guess the logic is that if we get rejected, we’re left with a bleak consolation: at least we didn’t show them how invested we really were. But why is that important? Are we so afraid of rejection that we’re willing to miss the opportunity of real intimacy?

The truth about that common attitude is that it’s backed up by fear, and that’s a complete torture. Keeping up the cool façade is exhausting. It simply takes too much effort to hide our enthusiasm and act in an unnatural way. The whole thing turns the relationship into a competition where those involved are keeping the score. It makes us think absurd things like: "Who started the last interaction? If it was me, I can’t do it again! How often are they texting? How long are they taking to respond? Maybe I should take my time to answer too, to show them that I’m busy, that I’m not thinking about them…" Are those thoughts familiar to you? Don't you think they're totally ridiculous? The sad part is that, in many cases, both parties are thinking the same things and playing a frankly boring role that could be way more interesting and exciting if only they allowed themselves to show the vulnerability that's needed to start a truly honest relationship.

There's nothing wrong with being passionate about something, being decisive, knowing what we want, and having the confidence to ask for it in a relationship. Pretending to be someone else takes us nowhere, and we can’t wait for someone else to simply guess our desires and needs. The idea of coolness and detachment as impressive qualities comes from our misunderstanding of healthy relationships. What we’re actually avoiding is neediness and emotional dependence, and while that’s important, we shouldn’t exaggerate and miss a real connection.

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Images by Andre Nguyen.